What do the fit, beautiful music celebrities whom our teens admire eat and drink? According to the ads they help make it's junk food and sugary drinks that got them into the great shape they're in.
Which I seriously doubt. I'd bet that they actually treat their health as a great asset, and protect that asset by being very, very careful with what they eat.
A new study, led by Marie Bragg, in the journal Pediatrics, compiled a list of top music celebrities associated with the Billboard Hot 100 Chart, and then looked at foods and drinks these musicians endorsed and helped advertise.
Sixty-five of the 163 music celebrities in the study endorsed foods and drinks. Fifty-one of them endorsed beverages, mostly full-calorie sugary drinks. Most of the foods endorsed (80 percent) were energy dense and nutrient poor, i.e. junk food. Baauer, will.i.am, Britney Spears, Justin Timberlake, Maroon 5, Pitbull, and Jessie J were the most prominent food and drink endorsers. And the food and beverage companies are certainly getting their money's worth: There were 312 million You-Tube views of the 94 celebrity food and soft-drink ads in the researchers' sample - and that's just one media channel.
Does Justin Timberlake really drink soda? Here's what he told Bon Appetit about how he eats:
"I'm such a Type A personality-when it comes to a road trip, I plan my food so far in advance. I roll hard with a cooler. I don't mess around. I want to avoid ending up eating fast food. I try to stay away from that."
Britney Spears recently stunned the world with her amazing abs, and she, too, didn't get there by drinking soda, but rather, as her trainers report, by eating clean, unprocessed food and good carbs. This is how Spears describes the way to her beach body:
"I'm really into raw food -- sushi, basically...any kind of fruit."
The authors admonish the practice revealed by this study:
"Obesity has become such a pressing public health issue that society must acknowledge the human suffering and costs associated with diabetes, obesity, and associated comorbidities. Musicians, actors, and other celebrities can be tremendously influential, particularly for the young fan base that may be swayed by their endorsements. Celebrities should leverage their influence to promote more healthful messages, and more effort should be made to reduce the exposure of children and adolescents to marketing, particularly for unhealthy food and nonalcoholic beverages."
The same author headed another study in Pediatrics that similarly showed the extent and reach of star athlete endorsed junk food. That study found that 24 percent of all the top athlete endorsement deals were for foods and beverages, almost all for junk food and sugary drinks.
Associating junk food and sugary drinks with fitness, strength, vigor, success, health and beauty is pretty ironic. But I guess that as long as we're buying into it, these endorsements will continue.
Full disclosure: I co-founded Herbal Water, which makes organic herb-infused waters that have zero calories and no sugar or artificial ingredients. I'm also a pediatrician and have been promoting good nutrition and healthy lifestyle for many years.
This is a crosspost of my blog, Healthy Food & Healthy Living, where you can reach me at firstname.lastname@example.org.